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SCENE 2 – Plot

“As a young lad,” M. Valken tells his beloved guests, “your maester Tim was fond of sampling chocolate. He would engorge his tongue on all sorts of chocolate; everything from pure cocoa, to chocolate mixed with cherry and walnut.” In the PowerPoint, the picture of petite Timmy, wearing a tux - his cheeks plump like a penguin, and he's hanging off a Christmas tree from biting on a gingerbread man.

Utena thinks it's kinda cute that everyone has their sweet tooth yearnings. Robin gazes at the image; it is interesting to see another side to the eccentric man.

That gingerbread happened to get mutated with chocolate chips and sprinkles,” M. Valken says. “M. Timothy has been so good to lend me this photo in particular. All the rest would embarrass him so.” Next slide. “And M. Timothy, in his ingenuity.. has transformed his passion for sweetness into profit – if you ever looked where the chocolate is at the markets, you may have spotted his finest product, Sauvage Love.

It is a chocolate bar, its wrapping exquisitely drawn out with fine design. And once you've opened the flower's sepals, you feast upon the nectar so crafted, so manufactured; the ingredients and cocoa bringing your mouth, each slow and delicate chew, to an orgasm that leaves you so vain.. no, not in the sense of inducing vanity in the customer, but bringing out the portions in your being that have been long gone unattended – since suckling on those rich breasts that have coddled you, those first delights you could have savoured in this world. All this for the quaint price of eight pounds, or twelve euros for those abroad.

“I've heard of Tim telling us he's in the co-co business,” Utena goes, looking at the bar. “I guess this is what he means. Funny, I've seen people dowse themselves with candy like it, but I didn't know ol' Tim was behind this evil plan.”

“Evil?” M. Valken widens his eyes as if asking 'Who, Me?' “Non, non! You must see, M. Timothy respects his customers. He wants what is best for them, so that they can give their best for him. The feeling his chocolate gives is that of bliss. It's not meant to be addictive though, and it is reasonably healthy to eat too. The way he has the chocolate made, he also pumps in the essential nutrients so you aren't simply consuming those.. empty calories. Not like other chocolate. He is very honest in sharing what his ingredients are, but.. the trick lies in the way it's made.

I'll give you layman's terms. By the same way he integrates the nutrients into the final bar, so can he also integrate a form of the opium inside. This opium drug, once it has gone through manufacturing process, remains dormant.. hidden in the bar. It will be like other bars. You don't get, well, high from eating it, because opium chemistry is changed. It is almost undetectable, except for the fact it is a little heavier than usual. No dog or cat can smell it, besides the chocolate. The recipients, when they want the opium, they will have one of our chemists distill the bar The Right Way. Or else.. no opium.

“M. Timothy has a joint distribution network set-up across the countries. I need not tell you the details, but – the Interpol, they may be getting suspicious. Tim has been hearing not-so-goodly news, one of the clients fucked up the secrecy and they are wondering if the chocolate has something related to do with it. Now they're riled, they wish to pull off a wide-scale investigation, but they need to get approval from the Commission because of potential damages to economy. So they have their advocates push an act that allow this sort to happen.

In two days time, Council of Europe will be presenting issues to each other in town. You know how the process goes, there will be up to three tries to get an act passed. If it don't work the first time, then they'll revise it for the second try. And so on, up until the third time, in which it gets tossed aside to the dogs-- damn, you must be pretty hungry after hearing this, oui? I am!”

Wait..” Robin says, her soft voice possessing a kind of solidity. “Who do you want us to kill?

M. Valken halts. “Ha.. hahaha. AHAHAHAHA!” His laughter, undignified in its sudden rupture, seems to possess no bounds. Robin begins to blush, feeling that she has said something wrong, and clutches onto the pillow all the more. “You kill no one!” he goes. “Right now, you're killing me-- hoho-- I almost forgot, you two are his killers. I gotcha. It's just, you two look so young, I don't see you strangling the hell outta me.”

Utena is smirking – that is very flattering of him to say so! “Ohh.. we're young, but that's all the better to take you down if we needed to. Besides, strangling? Very unprofessional.”

“Unprofessional.. hunh.” M. Valken puts his remote on his desk. “Killing here, you use only as a last resort – because our goal is to keep it low-key. We convince these people that making life difficult for us, is not worth anything but what a pony may care.”

He claps his hands excitedly, and gestures at the toolboxes. “What M. Timothy wants of you.. is to mesmerize the Interpol advocates.”

“Mesmerize?” Utena says.

M. Valken grabs the remote, advancing it to the next slide – apparently snack time can wait. On the screen are two people's portraits; one Jeanne Whitaker and a Luis Felipe. You see the dull pallor on their unsmiling faces, like the stale air of a hospital room, the whiteness overwhelming the contemporary art gallery, the rubbish bag tangled forever on the barbed wire; all the life seems to have been sucked out of their souls only to be replaced with the bureaucracy and regulation of their professional lives. It would be no wonder that they have been perfect candidates for commission work.

For Utena, she would be much delighted to give these folk a neat wake-up call of sorts, if it means mesmerizing them.. you are getting sleepy.

“Mesmerizing – we spellbind their minds,” M. Valken explains, making a twirl of his fingers. “Not with words or magick, but with specially-devised drugs. Mental relaxants. Once they take the drugs, it doesn't take effect until once you sleep, and then.. what happens is that – you know when your brain goes on autopilot mode, oui? You wake up, you do daily routines like brush teeth, eat breakfast, the humdums..”

“Those things we tend to do..” Robin goes, “that we don't pay conscious attention to.”

“You got it right! Thank God, you know where I was going. Conscious attention.. this drug, it will hamper their awareness. It doesn't take away, it hampers. It will be like.. a bad hangover, or sleeping on those jumbo jets, except for them – they won't know it. A sort of numbed drowsiness. It will last around five hours, give or take, once they wake up. When they go to meeting, they won't present themselves well. They'll be buffoons. The council should dismiss them, but on the unlikely event that Jeanne and Luis manage to get their shit through anyway, we have another dose to give them, and another.”

“Even if we succeed, Interpol will still have their suspicion,” Robin says. “Why attack the head of the Hydra when two more will grow in its place anyway?”

“Because..” M. Valken goes, “in the case we succeed, M. Timothy will have the opportunity to disguise the situation, so to discourage them from prodding their oversized noses where they don't belong. They don't know we know, yet. For your maester, secrecy must be one of the most precious things he holds dear.”

Then M. Valken treats his guests to slices of mulberry pie and refillings of their tea. And when he introduces them to some of Timothy's luxury chocolate, they hesitate for the feeling of an addiction that needs constant sating; he tells them there really is nothing dishonest about those bars. They eat them – a peck off the top at first, and more and more of those sweet portions down their mouths, and surely they feel inspirited as far as their taste carries them.

But if these two boxes are for Robin and Sena to use, then who is the last box for?

“I'll call my son Andrei downstairs,” M. Valken goes. “He will help you acquaint with the mission specifics more.”

June 2017

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